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Ute Theater firing off 2022 with some smoke

The Lil Smokies.
Dylan Langille/Courtesy photo

The Ute Theater begins its 2022 events calendar Friday with some Americana flair.

Missoula, Montana-based The Lil Smokies make a return to Rifle, beginning a string of weekend shows throughout the following weeks.

“It’s hard to pinpoint their exact genre,” Ute Theater Manager Anna Kaiser said. “It’s very high energy. … I would say if you had to pick one, it’d be bluegrass, but they bend that into some rock and country.”



The band is currently on tour with shows in Telluride, Winter Park and Steamboat Springs in the days immediately following the Ute Theater show.

The acoustic quintet first appeared at the Ute in 2019, the band’s 10th year of existence and ahead of their third studio album, “Tornillo,” which was released in January 2020.



Per the band’s website, the artists were “reimagining their approach to roots music,” on the album, named for the town in Texas where it was recorded. Bill Reynolds, who has worked with groups like The Avett Brothers and Band of Horses, produced the album. They’ve played at prestigious venues like Red Rocks throughout their tours.

“It’s not completely acoustic, they blur that line,” Kaiser said.

It marks the first big show of the year for the Ute, which has focused on private parties throughout the holidays. It has a Saturday event scheduled for eight of the next 10 weeks into late March.

On Jan. 22, AC/DC cover band Noise Pollution heads to Rifle, followed by Suzanna Santo with Izzi Ray on Jan. 29. Its indoor cornhole league also returns on Thursdays, starting Jan. 20. Local artists The Tyler Rust Band and A Band Called Alexis will participate in Rockin’ Country Night on Feb. 12.

“We’ve got a lot planned,” Kaiser said. “We’re very fortunate to get some grant money from the state of Colorado and their arts relief grant, and we are putting that toward programming as well as some improvements on the building.”

The venue is currently not requiring masks for guests. Employees will be masked and behind plexiglass barriers in the lobby and bar area. The theater recently installed a new air filtration system as well.

The Ute, 132 E. Fourth St., does not currently have any limitations on capacity either. Tickets for The Lil Smokies are still available.

Tickets can be purchased online through UteTheater.com or the venue’s recently reopened box office.

Doors for The Lil Smokies open at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning an hour later.

Reporter Rich Allen can be reached at 970-384-9131 or rallen@postindependent.com.


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